By Jade Berg
“Kuma Niku” is Japanese for Bear meat
Katsu is essentially a ”breaded cutlet” that is fried and served with rice and shredded cabbage.
In this traditional Japanese recipe I am simply using bear instead of pork or chicken. But any wild game would be a delicious substitute.
I used bear backstraps ( loin) which I trimmed down into steaks and than pounded out very thin, sandwiched between two sheets of saran wrap to ensure a quick even cooking and a nice golden brown crunchy panko breading.
I typically like to season the pounded bear cutlets with salt and pepper about an hour prior to cooking and let them rest in the fridge to allow the salt time to penetrate to the middle of the meat.
This sauce is easy to throw together, you can buy authentic pre-made Tonkatsu sauce from a Japanese supermarket or specialty store, but I find this world just as well
This sauce is good on anything type of fried cutlet, I like to make sandwiches the next day with this and some shredded cabbage and japanese pickles.
? 1 tbsp Ketchup
? 2 ½ tbsp Soy Sauce
? 1 ½ tsp oyster sauce
? 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
? 1 tbsp Mirin
? 1 ½ tsp Worchestershire
? Tsp Fresh Ginger grated
? 1 clove crushed Garlic
Combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, worcestershire, ginger and garlic together in a bowl and stir well to mix.
I prefer to make this a day ahead of time or even a few hours ahead of time to let the flavours blend well.
As always with any recipe use this as a guideline and adjust to your own taste preferences.
Kuma Niku Katsu Recipe
The key to these is making sure they pounded out or cut to a uniform thickness to ensure the meat cooks evenly and reaches a temp of 160f without overcooking the breading.
The breading process is very simple, i prefer to keep my left hand for dipping the cutlets in eggs and then my right hand for breading panko, e.g. Wet hand Dry hand. That helps to prevent your fingers from becoming overly coated in panko and flour. Although I've seen many do this part with chopsticks or even a skewer to keep their hands clean.
? 4 pieces of black bear backstrap cut into 4” long sections
? Salt and pepper
? ½ cup flour
? 2 -3 eggs beaten
? 3 tbsp cold water
? 1-2 cups panko breading
? Vegetable oil
? Shredded cabbage
? Cooked sushi rice
? Tonkatsu sauce
? Japanese pickles ( optional)
Take each bear steak and lay one sheet of saran wrap down on the counter and cover with another, gently but firmly pound the steaks out until they are approximately ¼ inch thick.
Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
I prefer to use 3 bowls for the breading process. One with flour, one with eggs and water mixed together and lastly one with half of my panko in it.
Coat each bear cutlet evenly with flour in the first bowl and than dip in the egg/water mixture and let excess run off back into the bowl before transferring to panko mixture making sure to fully coat in panko, sometime you may need to use your dry hand to press the breading in firmly but gently. You may need to switch your panko out for new panko halfway through breading if it seems to be clumping together in your bowl due to excess egg wash.
Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Heat a skillet big enough to fry these one at a time over medium heat. Once the pan is hot add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan and allow the oil to start to ripple before adding your first breaded bear cutlet.
Cook each cutlet for aprox 2-3 min on the first side or until a deep golden brown, flip and allow the other side to brown as well. Setting each cooked piece aside on a plate lined with paper towell to absorb any excess oil. Ensure they have reached an internal temp of 160f with a meat thermometer or if you are comfortable break on open with tongs and ensure it is fully cooked.
Chop into thin slices on a cutting board just prior to plating.
Note: you may need to top up the oil in your pan in between cutlets and/or wipe out with paper towel to avoid burnt bits of pank from sticking to your meat, use your best judgement. You cant really mess this up.
Place a scoop of cooked sushi rice on a plate, and place the sliced bear cutlet on top.
Serve each with shredded cabbage and your homemade tonkatsu sauce and if you like some japanese pickles on the side!